Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pace Bend

Where to start? Should it be the pain constantly shooting through my legs even before the race has even started, the extremely fast 5 mile rolling course, or the 140 man field that started the race? We'll start with the legs. Even after trying to spend most of the previous day off my legs and massaging the cramps out of them from the death defying effort that I put in the day before, I was still hurting like a dog. The few hours before the race was spent waddling around the camp ground frantically getting ready for the race. The course was an extremely fast 5 mile course filled with rolling hills. The average for the race ended up being 25.7 mph, the fastest road race average I've ever had. Due to the fact that we were staying at the park where the race was and it started at 12:30, I was given a chance to get some well-wanted hours of extra sleep. I woke up around 10:00 for some breakfast. At around 11:00 I made the two mile trek to the start line to pick up my number and meet with some friends before the race of pain. I then rolled back to our camper to get ready for the race. After rolling back up to the start line, almost eating the pavement a few times because I was carrying my spare wheels with me, I settled down near the front of the 140 man field for the start with Alan. With another 20 or so minutes to spare before the start, Alan and I started our pre-race rituals including kicking each others wheels, slapping the seats, slamming our fist down on each others helmets, injecting our imaginary "EPO" from a syringe that goes all the way around the world, and who knows what else we do (don't even try to understand the complexity of our friendship). By the end of all that the race was only a few minutes away from starting. The officials called out the rules and off we went. I only had two goals for this race: finish and try and stay as close to the front as possible. Surprisingly, I felt pretty strong today despite the previous day's efforts. I was able to stay up in the top 15-20 riders for most of the race, felt strong enough to attack once or twice, and was still able to see shoot Alan the "What Up?" sign whenever our paths crossed (again, don't try to understand...). An early break got away and stayed off the front for about 8 of the 14 laps we were doing. When the break was caught there were immediately some counter-attacks, but due to the extreme size of the field none stayed away. The last three laps where perhaps some of the fastest laps I've ever done. Everyone was fighting to stay up at the front and attacks were going like free candy. I resigned to try and stay up in the front as much as I could and try to conserve as much energy as I could. Unfortunately, a group of about 20 had broken away from the rest of the field with a little over one lap to go. I then went on an attack with three others to try and bridge up to the lead group. The three of us were pulling all out until we finally caught the group. I then looked around hoping to see a gap to the rest of the pack, but found them just catching up to us. Hanging my head in despair, I fell back to about the middle of the pack thinking my day was done. With about a half a lap to go I got a second wind and was able to move pretty far up in the pack. Going into the final sharp turn before the 250 meter finish line climb, I was sitting in the top 15. Unfortunately, I was cut-off going around the turn and lost a ton of places. After that I just sat up and rolled up the climb to finish a dismal 60th out of probably more than 100 finishers. Phil Wikoff won the race ahead of Josh Carter and Steve Tilford. I was definitely excited about the weekend's performances and am looking forward to Texas' biggest race of the season next weekend, La Primavera at Lago Vista.